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Espresso Cheesecake Brownies
4

Espresso Cheesecake Brownies

When it comes to sweets, I have a terrible time choosing what to make.  It’s really bad.  Part of the problem is that I don’t really have a formal list of things I want to bake so I’ve got this revolving door in my brain of ideas moving in and out.  Sitting down to flip through a cookbook to randomly look for a recipe these days makes me crazy anxious because I seriously want to make all the things.  All of them.

Espresso Cheesecake Brownies

Thank goodness for Kyle.  In the middle of the great flood…err, Memorial Day weekend…he blindly plucked a cookbook off the shelf, flipped through a few pages, and within 3 minutes (THREE!) landed on these espresso cheesecake brownies.  All he said was, “Want.”  How do men have the capability to do that?!  Anyway, we made them together and 4 hours later (yes, lots of chill-time here, unfortunately) we had two of our favorite things wrapped up in one dessert: a creamy coffee cheesecake on top of a fudgy brownie base.  These are rich and luxurious brownies but they couldn’t be more simple to make and if you can fill all that chill-time with say, 3 or so DVR’d episodes of Revolution and a buffalo chicken pizza, you’ll never agonize over the time you’re waiting to stuff your face with them.  (Just sayin’.)

Espresso Cheesecake Brownies

Total Time: 4 hours

Yield: 16 brownies

If you're not a fan of sour cream topping on cheesecake, you can totally skip it here. We may or may not have scraped a brownie or two clean of the topping and they were excellent that way as well.

Ingredients

    For the brownies:
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of table salt
  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 4 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • For the espresso cheesecake:
  • 1 ½ tsp instant espresso powder
  • 1 tbsp very hot tap water
  • 8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • For the topping:
  • 1 ¼ cup sour cream
  • ¾ cup confectioners' sugar, sifted

Instructions

  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350° F. Butter and flour a 9-inch square baking pan or spray the pan with baking spray.
  2. To make the brownies: Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside. Melt the butter and chocolate together over medium-low heat in a medium saucepan, stirring with a rubber spatula until the two have melted into each other. Take care not to heat the mixture too much - you don't want the butter to separate. Turn off the heat and remove the pan from the stove.
  3. Whisk in the sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time and beat well after each addition. Whisk in the vanilla extract and whisk vigorously for just a few seconds. With a rubber spatula, gently stir in the dry ingredients, taking care to scrape the bottom of the pan. Stop mixing when the dry ingredients have only barely disappeared into the batter. Set the pan aside while you make the cheesecake batter.
  4. To make the cheesecake: Stir the espresso powder into the hot water until it has dissolved; set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or with a hand mixer and large bowl, beat the cream cheese on medium until it is smooth. Beat in the sugar and continue beating for 2 ½ to 3 minutes. Stir in the vanilla extract and espresso-water mixture; scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time and beat each for 1 minute before adding the next and moving to the next step, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl after each addition. Reduce the mixer to low, stir in the sour cream and then the flour. The batter should be smooth.
  5. Stir up the brownie batter a couple of times and spread ¾ of the batter out in the bottom the prepared baking pan - the batter should cover the entire bottom. Pour all of the cheesecake batter over the brownie batter and using a spoon or offset spatula, cover the brownie batter entirely. Dollop the remaining brownie batter over the cheesecake batter by the tablespoonful and using a knife, just barely swirl the brownie batter around, taking care not to dip the knife into the bottom layer of brownies.
  6. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. The brownies should just pull away from the sides of the pan and be slightly browned on the edges and puffed all over. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool to room temperature. Transfer the brownies to the refrigerator and chill for 2 hours.
  7. To make the sour cream topping: In a small sauce pan over low heat, warm the sour cream and sugar together, stirring constantly until the sugar has dissolved. Pour the topping over the chilled brownies and using an offset spatula, push the topping just out to within ¼-inch of the edges - don't let the topping spill down the sides. Chill the brownies for another 1 hour.
  8. To cut the brownies, run a long sharp knife under hot water and dry with a towel. Cut the brownies into quarters with the hot knife, cleaning and reheating before you make each cut. Remove the quarters from the pan and cut each into quarters. Keep the cut brownies chilled and bring to room temperature before serving.

Source

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Egg Salad with Fennel and Lemon Aioli
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Egg Salad with Fennel and Lemon Aioli

I realize this week I’m talking about things I’ve said over the past couple of weeks but bear with me.  I’m pretty excited about the food we’ve been making recently, this egg salad with fennel and lemon aioli being no exception.  The exception comes in where I told you that I loathed mayo-based salads last week.  Egg salad and tuna salad, when made my way, are really the only mayo-based salads that I’ll eat.  And actually, I truly love egg salad.  I’ve had it for lunch no less than once or twice a week for the past, like, 6 months so this recipe was directly up my alley.

Egg Salad with Fennel and Lemon Aioli

The fennel, and lemon zest for that matter, seem like odd additions to egg salad but they totally work here.  The fennel adds a bit of sweetness and the zest lightens up what can sometimes be a heavy mayonnaise base.  The original recipe calls for chicken to be added as well but I skipped it in favor of a vegetarian version.  I also used light mayonnaise in the aioli rather than making my own due to Kyle’s uncooked egg sensitivity; my changes are below.  This egg salad, served up on some crusty toasted bread with a small salad, makes for a great addition to my light meals for hot nights round-up from last summer and I know this won’t be the last time this meals sees our kitchen this year.

Egg Salad Toasts with Fennel and Lemon Aioli

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 large eggs
  • ½ cup finely chopped fennel bulb
  • 2 tbsp chopped fennel greens
  • ½ cup mayonnaise (light is fine)
  • ½ tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 small clove garlic, finely minced
  • ½ tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Table salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ loaf of your favorite crusty bread, sliced and toasted

Instructions

  1. In a medium sauce pan, add the eggs and cover with cold water - the water should reach about 1 inch above the eggs. Cover and bring the water to a boil over high heat. Turn the burner off, move the sauce pan off the burner, and set the timer for 11 minutes. When the time is up, pour off the hot water and run cold tap water into the sauce pan until all of the water is cold. Let the eggs cool completely in the water. Once cool, peel and chop the eggs in a medium bowl.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk the mayonnaise, mustard, garlic, lemon zest, vinegar, olive oil, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper together in a small bowl.
  3. Stir the aioli, fennel, and fennel greens into the eggs. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve egg salad open-faced on the warm toasts.

Source

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Peanut Butter and Banana Waffles
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Peanut Butter and Banana Waffles

Remember a few weeks back when I mentioned my non-existent Mother’s Day menu for my mom?  The one I had a few ideas for but hadn’t yet discussed with my brother?  Well, we compromised.  I was thinking a stuffed French toast.  He was thinking waffles.  To me, there’s no contest here.  I guess it helps that Mom loves waffles.  I am my mother’s child, after all.

Peanut Butter and Banana Waffles

She also love love loves the pairing of peanut butter and banana.  As kids, our peanut butter sandwiches included either jelly or bananas – I didn’t even know about Fluff until college.  Fresh homemade banana bread was slathered with peanut butter.  It’s a natural combo that Mom flips over and so we made peanut butter and banana waffles for her for Mother’s Day.  Without getting too crazy with the waffle recipe itself, we made buttermilk waffles and topped them with a creamy peanut butter sauce (that is completely stellar on top of ice cream) and sliced bananas.  And let me tell you, we’re talkin’ dream breakfast here – definitely one of the highlights of the day for all of us and I know they helped make Mom’s day.

To note: Kyle and I remade the sauce and waffle recipe this past weekend and I wasn’t really thrilled with the slightly soft outer texture of the waffles.  I think there is too much butter in the recipe as written (1 stick for 6 Belgian waffles) so I’m not going to recommend this recipe – just stick with the classic buttermilk waffle recipe I posted recently or use your own favorite recipe.  Either way, don’t skimp on the peanut butter sauce – it’s an indulgence you don’t want to miss.

Peanut Butter and Banana Waffles

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

Skip the jarred and bottled peanut butter sauces and make your own without high fructose corn syrup! Whole Foods brand of creamy peanut butter is an all-natural option and some mainstream brands like Peter Pan are now skipping the HFCS as well. Skippy Natural has too much oil for this recipe so stick with a peanut butter that doesn't have to be stirred. Double the peanut butter sauce recipe and refrigerate the leftovers if you want to use it as a topping for ice cream or brownies...or brownie sundaes.

Ingredients

  • 1 waffle recipe
  • ½ cup creamy peanut butter
  • ½ - ¾ cup half-and-half
  • 3 ½ tbsp confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 3 bananas, sliced

Instructions

  1. Prepare waffles according to recipe instructions, keeping cooked waffles warm in a 250° degree oven while you make the rest.
  2. To make the peanut butter sauce: Combine peanut butter and half-and-half in a medium heatproof bowl. Warm in the microwave for 1 minute, stir, then heat again for 30 seconds. Whisk the mixture together until the peanut butter completely combines with the half-and-half. This will take a minute or so of whisking and at first, the peanut butter will look really separated - it will come together. Whisk in the sugar. At this point, if the mixture is too thick for a sauce consistency, whisk in some extra half-and-half by the tablespoon until you reached your desired consistency, up to ¾ cup.
  3. Spoon peanut butter sauce over waffles then top with sliced bananas. If you want to get really crazy, a little pure maple syrup is also excellent drizzled on top of the sauce and bananas.

Source

source: inspired by The Professional Palate | peanut butter sauce adapted from Martha Stewart

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Pressed Cuban Burgers
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Pressed Cuban Burgers

Summer is officially here.  OK well, unofficially, but guys…the AC has been on this week.  Let’s not forget that it’s May in New England and if you’re a New Englander, you know what that means: tomorrow we’ll need the heat.  And the rain, oh all the rain!And in spite of the downpours that threaten to wash away my carrot seedlings, we’ve made these pressed Cuban burgers twice this week.  In the rain.  They are totally worth it.

Pressed Cuban Burgers

Years and years ago – like when we were living in our first house and before we moved two more times – we made a similar version of these burgers many, many, many times.  It was one of those meals that I cooked and we loved (while I self-taught myself how to grill), even before I really got into cooking.  I’m not sure if it’s the flavor of the cumin or the crispy, toasted bun or the melty cheese that I’m more addicted to but these are without a doubt, some of our favorite burgers ever.

Pressed Cuban Burgers

This time I added ground pork to the ground beef and eliminated the sliced ham, which I always felt got messy and slide-y on the hot burgers, and topped them with a softer Manchego (aged 3 months – that actually melts!) rather than the cheddar and/or Swiss we had been using.  The pickles and Dijon aioli are a must if you want to keep to the traditional Cuban sandwich flavors but they are not an absolute – I ate these burgers for years without the pickles or mustard and only finally came around to loving both.  If you can’t grill or don’t have one, a grill pan or cast iron pan will work great indoors.  We’ve even made them in the oven (well, cooked on the stove top and pressed in the oven on a sheet pan) when the deck was too snowed-in to get to the grill one night.  So grab a few bricks, heavy rocks, or a heavy pan, and get to these pressing burgers this weekend – you will not be disappointed.

Pressed Cuban Burgers

Total Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 4 burgers

If you don't have a grill or can't grill in your apartment, these burgers can be cooked on the stove top in a grill pan or cast iron pan and pressed in the pan or in the oven on a sheet pan.

Ingredients

    For the burgers:
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • ½ lb ground beef
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp ancho chile powder (or regular chili powder)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • For the Dijon aioli:
  • 2 ½ tbsp mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • For burger assembly:
  • 4 burger buns
  • 4 oz Manchego cheese, shredded or sliced
  • Dill pickle sandwich slices (long, not rounds) or spears
  • Cooking spray

Instructions

  1. To make the burgers: Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Clean off a few bricks or flat rocks.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the pork, beef, cumin, garlic powder, and chile powder together with a fork until everything is thoroughly distributed. Form 4 patties (they will be large but will shrink on the grill due to the fat in the pork) and set them on a large plate. Drizzle the tops with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper; repeat on the other side. Turn one burner of the grill down to medium and grill the burgers on that side for 8 minutes, flipping halfway through. Be prepared for some smoke and flames, again due to the fat in the pork. Leave the grill on after you take the burgers off, returning the medium burner back to medium-high.
  3. To make the Dijon aioli: While the burgers cook, whisk the mayonnaise, mustard, garlic powder, and vinegar together in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. To assemble the burgers: Lay out 4 pieces of aluminum foil on the counter top. Lightly spray the foil with cooking spray. Place the bottom of the buns in the center of each respective piece of foil. Divide the aioli between the buns. Place the burgers on the buns, top with cheese and pickles, then the tops of the buns. Lightly spray the tops of the buns with cooking spray and wrap up the burgers tightly with foil and press down on the tops a little.
  5. Return the burgers to the front edge of the grill and press the bricks or rocks down on top of the burgers. (You'll want the burgers set towards the front of the grill because that little top rack gets caught up in the bricks if the burgers are too far towards the back when you try to close lid.) Close the lid and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, flipping the burgers with tongs (easier than a spatula) halfway through - remove the bricks/rocks with pot holders as they will be hot!! Remove the burgers from the grill, unwrap, and serve hot.

Source

source: inspired by Bobby Flay

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Grilled Corn Guacamole
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Grilled Corn Guacamole

I’m ashamed that I’ve never shared our favorite guacamole recipe with you.  Like, really ashamed.  Because every time I make it, two things happen which prevent me from sharing: 1. I never measure the ingredients and 2. It never, ever lasts long enough to photograph.  Hands with chips constantly invading the guac bowl make this difficult.

But no matter, I’ve got another one to share with you today; one that we love just as much, if not more than our traditional “recipe.”  This grilled corn guacamole is something to behold.  Charred sweet summer happens pretty easily on a hot grill and after ripping the corn off the cob, you’ll toss it in with some of the usual guacamole suspects: avocado, cilantro, red onion, jalapeño, and lime juice.  Overall, it takes a little longer to make than regular gauc but the smokiness of the grilled corn with the cool avocado makes it all worth it.  Load up on avocado and corn this Memorial Day weekend because with an extra day off, you’ve got an extra day to make this dip.

Grilled Corn Guacamole

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: about 2 ½ cups

Ingredients

  • 4 ears corn, silk removed with the husks remaining
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3 ripe avocados, peeled, pitted and diced
  • 1 jalapeno or serrano chile, finely diced
  • ½ small red onion, finely diced (about ¼ cup)
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Instructions

  1. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Fill a 13x9-inch baking dish halfway full with water and sprinkle in 1 teaspoon of salt. Immerse the corn ears in the water and add more water to cover the corn. Let the corn soak for 10 minutes while the grill heats.
  2. Shake the water off the corn and grill the corn for 15 to 20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes until the husks begin to char and the corn is just about fork tender. Remove the corn and carefully remove the husks and bottom nub (the corn will be hot.)
  3. Brush the corn with the canola oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and return it to the grill. Cook, turning, for about 10 minutes, until the corn begins to char in places. Remove the corn from the grill and stand the corn upright in a shallow bowl. With a sharp knife, slice downwards on the sides of the corn to remove the kernels from the ear, allowing the corn to drop into the bowl.
  4. Smash the avocado lightly in a large bowl. Stir in the peppers, onions, lime juice, cilantro, and corn. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with tortilla chips.

Source

source: adapted from Grill It! by Bobby Flay

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Roasted Shrimp and Asparagus Salad
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Roasted Shrimp and Asparagus Salad Sandwiches

Every year summer rolls around, I vow I’m going to make more salads – both leafy green salads and more of the traditional bbq party salads as well.  Leafy green salads topped to the max with the best summer veggies around never seem to be a problem.  Pasta salads are fine too.  It’s more that the mayo-based mac-potato-chicken versions seem to evade me.  I’ll be honest – globs of mayonnaise do nothing for me.  Yep that’s right, my grandmother’s famed potato salad will be a recipe that gets lost at my branch of the family tree.  And I don’t feel a bit bad.

Roasted Shrimp and Asparagus Salad Sandwiches

But I made an apple pecan chicken salad a few years back and got intrigued about the idea of making these types of salads my own way – very light on the mayo and big on flavor.  So this roasted shrimp and asparagus salad takes two of my favorite ingredients, cooks them using one of my favorite methods, combines them with a ton of fresh herbs, and adds a little mayonnaise and some Greek yogurt just to hold everything together.

Roasted Shrimp and Asparagus Salad Sandwiches

Yeaaaahhh, then top a split buttery and flaky croissant with this salad and you’ve got a blissful sandwich for lunch or a light dinner.  Call me crazy but I seriously never thought I would ever refer to salad like this as blissful, but it certainly is and I’m totally selling myself on this non-traditional salad idea now.

Roasted Shrimp and Asparagus Salad

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 2-3 servings

Instead of roasting, you can grill the shrimp and asparagus instead. There's no need to add salt to the shrimp and asparagus before roasting or grilling - the shrimp are salty enough on their own.

Ingredients

  • 12 oz large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 6 oz asparagus, trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise (light is fine)
  • 2 tbsp plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • ½ tsp lemon zest
  • Juice of half of a lemon
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp champagne vinegar
  • ¼ tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh chives, chopped

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425° F. Lay the shrimp and asparagus out on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with black pepper. Roast for 7 minutes. Allow the shrimp to cool for 5 minutes then cut them in half, if desired. Cool the shrimp and asparagus to room temperature or chill for up to 2 days before proceeding.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the mayonnaise, yogurt, lemon zest and juice, vinegars, salt and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper together. Stir in the dill, parsley, and chives. Fold in the cooled (or chilled) shrimp and asparagus. Season with extra salt and pepper to taste.

Source

source: Smells Like Home original

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Shrimp, Feta, and Fresh Herb Mac and Cheese
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Shrimp, Feta, and Fresh Herb Mac and Cheese

Are any of you struggling with pulling together your Mother’s Day menus?  ‘Cause I certainly am.  Actually, my brother and I haven’t even discussed yet what we plan to make for Mom on Sunday and probably won’t until I see him in person tomorrow.  This, as you might expect is both unnatural for me and also causing a bit of anxiety at the same time.  I have three spectacular brunch ideas in my head to suggest to my little bro but I really have no idea if he’ll go for them…or if he’s leaning more towards cheesy scrambled eggs, bacon, and fresh bagels (which I would totally be ok with too).

Anyway, if you’re planning a Mother’s Day dinner or lunch (or heck, even brunch) I suggest you make this shrimp and feta mac and cheese.  It’s certainly fancy enough to pass the Mother’s Day menu test for the most discernible menu planner or mother and at the same time, it’s still warm and comforting, just like mac and cheese should be.

Shrimp, Feta, and Fresh Herb Mac and Cheese

You’ll make a basic mac and cheese base sauce but you’ll add some feta and Gruyere cheeses, a few fresh herbs, lemon zest, and a whole bunch of fresh shrimp.  Then you’ll top the pasta with more feta (be still my heart), more herbs and zest, melted butter, and breadcrumbs and bake it all off until the sides are bubbly, the topping is crunchy, and the feta is warm and soft.  I was a little skeptical (and knew Kyle would be) but this meal really and truly works; we both adored it.  If it’s even possible, this was better the second day as the flavors had a chance to come together.  All in all, this is a wonderful springtime mac and cheese and I know you guys will love it!

Shrimp, Feta, and Fresh Herb Mac and Cheese

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes

Yield: 8-10 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 lb pasta shapes
  • 1 lb raw shrimp (31-40 ct.), peeled and deveined, cut in half
  • 10 oz feta cheese, crumbled or medium-diced and divided
  • Zest of 1 lemon, divided
  • ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped, divided
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 4 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
  • 8 oz Gruyere cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)
  • ½ tsp Kosher salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400? F.
  2. In a large pot, boil pasta in salted water until 2 minutes less than the package directions indicate. Drain the pasta well and toss in the shrimp. This will partially cook the shrimp before you bake the dish. Transfer the pasta and shrimp back to the still warm large pot.
  3. In a medium bowl, toss a handful of the feta together with a pinch of lemon zest, the panko, 2 teaspoons parsley, and the melted butter; set the bowl aside.
  4. In a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat, melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, whisking constantly until the mixture is light golden brown in color. Whisk in the milk until no lumps remain. Bring the milk to a simmer where it thickens and starts to bubble, stirring frequently to prevent scorching on the bottom of the saucepan. This should take about 5 to 7 minutes.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the remaining feta, lemon zest, and parsley, as well as the dill, Gruyere, salt, and pepper. Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta and shrimp in the large pot and stir to coat the pasta and shrimp with the sauce. Transfer the pasta mixture to a 3-quart baking dish (2-quart will likely be too small but two smaller baking dishes will work fine if you don't have a 3-quart dish). Sprinkle the reserved breadcrumb topping evenly over the pasta.
  6. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the sides are bubbly and the top is evenly browned. Let the mac and cheese set up for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Source

source: adapted from The Perfect Pantry via Annie's Eats

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Herb Grilled Chicken with Creamy Broccoli Orzo
9

Herb Grilled Chicken with Creamy Broccoli Orzo

There are some meals that Kyle and I have made over the years that really stick with us.  They are memorable meals; not memorable because of how good they were (though that helps) but because of the feelings they evoke and memories they awaken when we make them again.  This herb grilled chicken with creamy broccoli orzo is one of those memorable meals.

Herb Grilled Chicken with Creamy Broccoli Orzo

It was one of the first few posts that showed up here back in 2007 and though I swished by my 6th year blogiversary without blinking last month, this meal made a much anticipated reappearance to celebrate the occasion.  We’ve made it just a handful of times over the years but I thought it was time to reintroduce you all to its greatness…and because the post desperately needed a new photo.  In my heart, this was the meal that really showed me that I had the potential to be able to cook.  My knife skills were woeful and I was still watching The Food Network like an obsessive freak for tips on how to improve [everything].  It took me forever to chop the broccoli and garlic the recipe called for and I probably over-grilled the chicken.

Herb Grilled Chicken with Creamy Broccoli Orzo

But the herbes de Provence that I chose for the chicken paired perfectly with the homey and comforting creamy orzo, which likens to a Parmesan risotto or at the very, very least, a homemade version of a pre-packaged rice-pasta dish, and the meal was excellent in every way that first time.  Now when I go back to this very basic meal, I marvel at how things come full circle.  This meal came together for me in what felt like an instant but it was still just as perfect as it was all those years ago, and it even leaned a little to the lighter side as I swapped out most of the heavy cream for Greek yogurt. It’s one of those meals I know we’ll keep coming back to forever, if not for the full bellies we surrender to it, then for the reminder of those early years struggling in the kitchen to get dinner on the table while everything was still hot.

Herb Grilled Chicken with Creamy Broccoli Orzo

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 4-6 servings

If chicken isn't your thing, grilled shrimp or a mild fish like halibut or mahi mahi would be great substitutes here. To make the orzo vegetarian, swap out the chicken broth for vegetable broth.

Ingredients

    For the creamy broccoli orzo:
  • 16 oz orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 ¼ cups plain fat-free or low-fat Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups fresh broccoli florets
  • ¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan plus extra for sprinkling
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup reserved pasta water
  • For the herb grilled chicken:
  • 1 ½ lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded to ½-inch thickness
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp herbes de Provence
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Cook orzo according to package directions, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid before draining.
  2. Drizzle the olive oil over the chicken and season both sides with herbes de Provence, salt and pepper; set aside.
  3. Heat the grill medium-high heat.
  4. While the grill heats and right after you drop the orzo in the water, heat the oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic, and saute until tender and fragrant, about 1 ½ minutes. Add the broth and tomatoes and scrape any bits off the bottom of the pan. Simmer the tomatoes until they are tender, about 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Start grilling the chicken while the tomatoes cook, turning after 4-5 minutes and grilling for another 3-4 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 165° F.
  6. Stir the yogurt, cream and broccoli into the tomato mixture. Add the drained orzo and toss to coat. Remove the skillet from the heat. Add the Parmesan to the pasta mixture and toss to coat. Stir the pasta mixture until the sauce coats the pasta thickly, adding enough reserved cooking liquid to maintain a creamy consistency. Season the orzo with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle on extra Parmesan, if desired. Serve with the grilled chicken.

Source

source: Smells Like Home | orzo is heavily adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

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Tex-Mex Rancheros Hot Dogs
4

Tex-Mex Rancheros Hot Dogs

If Kyle was stranded on a deserted island and was forced to choose only 3 foods to eat for the rest of his life, one of them would most certainly be pork.  I’m pretty sure the other two would be pork and pork as well.  And since “pork” covers a huge variety of different food (he would make this choice by design), he’d wouldn’t need to be picky as long as there were hot dogs.  I swear, I could leave him with only a package of hot dogs for a weekend when I’m away and he would be perfectly content.  Not that I would or anything, but still.

I mentioned last summer that I prefer weekend lunches to be really simple and these Tex-Mex rancheros hot dogs fit the bill.  And they made Kyle suuuuper happy.  We piled a few grilled hot dogs sky-high with Cabot’s New York Extra Sharp Cheddar (that they sent me to sample a few months ago – it keeps really well if unopened), salsa, chopped avocado, black beans, and cilantro and man…these were some killer hot dogs.  If you’re a Tex-Mex lover, you’ve probably eaten huevos rancheros and this is where I pulled my inspiration from so I knew all of the flavors would be perfect on top of an often plain ol’ boring hot dog.  Grab your napkins and fire up the grill because you’ll want these messy rancheros hot dogs sooner rather than later!

Tex-Mex Rancheros Hot Dogs

Total Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Of course you could use any type of cheddar cheese here but I chose Cabot's New York Extra Sharp because I really wanted to taste the cheese and sometimes cheese just gets lost with lots of other ingredients. I'm sure Monterey jack or pepper jack would also be great alternatives.

Ingredients

  • 8 hot dogs
  • 4 oz Cabot New York Extra Sharp Cheddar, shredded (about 1 cup)
  • ½ cup salsa
  • 1 avocado, pitted, removed from the skin, and diced
  • ½ cup black beans, rinsed, drained, and dried
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 lime

Instructions

  1. Preheat grill to medium-high heat and hot dogs according to your preferences and place them on the buns. Divide the rest of the ingredients between the 8 hot dogs along with a squeeze of lime on top and serve hot.

Source

source: Smells Like Home original

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Disclaimer: Cabot provided me with a sample of a few types of cheese but I was not asked to tout their products and was not compensated in any way for this post.

15 Recipes for Cinco de Mayo
3

As far as I’m concerned, Mexican and Tex-Mex food is some of the best food out there.  I’m not talking Taco Bell here.  I’m talking the homemade stuff and it’s waaay easier to make at home than you may think!  Here are a few of our favorites in addition to the ones you can find in the Featured section at the top of the Home page.

Queso Fundido

Queso Fundido with Chorizo – Skip the restaurant cheese and make it at home with real cheese and smoky chorizo.

Taco Seasoning

DIY Taco Seasoning – Leave the packets and the sodium at the store and make your own taco mix.

chicken enchiladas

Red Chile Chicken Enchiladas – The hallmark of Tex-Mex meals and truly a long-standing favorite in this house.

Homemade Enchilada Sauce

DIY Enchilada Sauce – If you want to short cut those enchiladas and use a rotisserie chicken, make the sauce by itself!  You’ll never consider buying canned enchilada sauce again.

Shrimp Tacos

Shrimp Tacos with Mango Salsa – These light and fresh shrimp tacos make for a super simple meal.

Black Bean and Corn Enchilada Nachos

Black Bean and Corn Enchilada Nachos – If you need another idea for the enchilada sauce, how about some nachos?

tex mex sloppy joes

Tex-Mex Sloppy Joes – A kicked-up version of the original American meal.

Baked Burritos with Sour Cream-Poblano Sauce

Baked Chicken Burritos with Sour Cream Poblano Sauce – The creamy poblano sauce on these crispy burritos is killer!

corn cakes with tomato avocado relish

Sweet Corn Cakes with Tomato and Avocado Relish – A fresh griddle corn cakes with a light “relish” on top – perfection.

Restaurant Style Queso Dip

Restaurant Style Queso Dip – No fake cheese here!  Just grab your tortilla chips and get started.

Healthy Turkey Tacos

Healthy Turkey Tacos – These tacos have become our go-to for Tuesday Taco Nights and I’ll bet they’ll be yours too.

Elly's World Famous Black Beans

Elly’s World Famous Black Beans – Homemade black beans far outweigh the flavorless beans you get in Mexican restaurants.  15 minutes to an amazing side dish.

Chipotle Mac and Cheese

Chipotle Mac and Cheese – Spicy and creamy – what more can you ask of a Tex-Mex mac and cheese?

Shrimp Tacos with Margarita Slaw

Shrimp Tacos with Margarita Slaw – Yes, more tacos (we eat a lot of tacos here) – but the margarita slaw makes these tacos spectacular!  Or opt for a carb-free version and serve the shrimp over the slaw like a salad.

Spicy Bean Burritos

Spicy Bean Burritos – We love our beans around here and they are clearly the star of these healthy burritos.

Smoky Chorizo Hash and Eggs
7

Smoky Chorizo Hash and Eggs

Sunday morning breakfasts might possibly be my favorite meal of the week.  This honored spot was Friday night pizza nights when I was a kid but it’s now definitely Sundays.  I’ve lamented before (a few times, actually) about what Sunday mornings mean to us as a couple and especially as we roll into summer when Kyle’s job often has him working 6 days a week to finish up the school of the moment, that time is so precious to us.  In addition to drinking plenty of coffee in our rickety and chipping green Adirondack chairs on the porch as the sun peeks over the hills, we love coming up with new breakfast recipes; this smoky chorizo hash and eggs being our “it” breakfast of the moment.

Smoky Chorizo Hash and Eggs

It was kind of a throw-together meal a few months back but I jotted down the ingredients and amounts as we remade it recently and it turned out just as good as the first time around.  The chorizo definitely is the star here but I’ll never let crispy breakfast potatoes play second fiddle – they were just as great.  And the runny fried egg?  Required, of course.

Smoky Chorizo Hash and Eggs

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

If you're using fresh chorizo here, crumble it when browning in the skillet. If you're using pre-cooked, diced the chorizo into ½-inch pieces before cooking. The fresh chorizo may need some oil to prevent it from sticking; the pre-cooked likely will not.

Ingredients

    For the chorizo hash:
  • 3 medium red potatoes
  • 8 oz fresh chorizo, casings removed (see note above)
  • 2 tsp + 2 tbsp canola oil, divided
  • ½ red pepper, diced small (about ¾ cup)
  • ½ medium onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
  • For the eggs:
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 8 eggs

Instructions

  1. Wash and dry potatoes and prick them a couple times with a fork. Microwave them on high for 3 minutes. Dice them into ½-inch pieces.
  2. In a large cast iron skillet, break up the chorizo with a wide spatula and brown over medium heat for 8-10 minutes. If the chorizo seems dry or it's sticking to the pan, add 2 teaspoons of oil to the pan while it browns. Remove the chorizo from the skillet with a slotted spoon and keep warm in a covered bowl.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil and the butter in the skillet. Add the potatoes, oregano, paprika, cayenne, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Cook for 10 minutes, turning every 3 to 4 minutes. Add the peppers and onions, adding up to an extra 1 tablespoon oil if needed. Cook the until the peppers and onions have softened, about 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and black beans and cook until the beans have warmed through. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Turn the heat to low to keep the hash warm while you fry the eggs.
  4. Melt half of the butter a large non-stick pan and fry 4 eggs until desired level of doneness (repeat with remaining butter and eggs). Serve hot on top of the hash.

Source

source: Smells Like Home original

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